Song of the South (song)

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"Song of the South"
Single by Alabama
from the album Southern Star
Released November 7, 1988
Recorded January 1, 1988
Genre Country
Length 3:12
Label RCA Nashville
Writer(s) Bob McDill[1]
Producer(s) Alabama
Larry Michael Lee
Josh Leo
Alabama singles chronology
"Fallin' Again"
(1988)
"Song of the South"
(1988)
"If I Had You"
(1989)

"Song of the South" is a song written by Bob McDill. First recorded by American country music artist Bobby Bare on his 1980 album Drunk & Crazy, a version by Johnny Russell reached number 57 on the U.S. Billboard country chart in 1981. Another cover by Tom T. Hall and Earl Scruggs peaked at number 72 in 1982 from the album Storyteller and the Banjo Man. A cover released in November 1988 by American country music group Alabama, from their album Southern Star, reached number 1 on both the U.S. and Canadian country charts.

Content[edit]

The song tells the story of a poor Southern cotton farm-family during the Great Depression. "Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch. We all picked the cotton but we never got rich." "Well, somebody told us Wall Street fell, but we was so poor that we couldn't tell." The song references President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the line, "The cotton was short and the weeds was tall, but Mr. Roosevelt's gonna save us all." The father of the family is a Southern Democrat; "Daddy was a veteran, a southern democrat. They oughta get a rich man to vote like that." The family loses the farm after the mother becomes ill. "The county got the farm and they moved to town." In the end, the family ends up living comfortably well, having sought a life in a more urban location; "Well, papa got a job with the TVA, we bought a washing machine, and then a Chevrolet."

Music video[edit]

The music video, directed by Steve Boyle, consists mainly of black-and-white photos and footage of the South during the 1930s, as well as footage of members of the band and other actors in the South, which is also in black and white, to give the illusion that it was the 1930s when it was filmed. The content of the video mainly follows the song lyrics, such as the footage of President Roosevelt during the lines in the song where he is referenced. The video turns to color during the chorus, showing a large crowd fronted by the band members marching down the street of a small town. At the end, the video is also in color and shows Alabama playing at a concert, at the end of which random people come onto the stage.

Chart positions[edit]

Johnny Russell[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 57

Tom T. Hall/Earl Scruggs[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 72

Alabama[edit]

Chart (1988–1989) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[2] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1989) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[3] 83
US Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 41

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Song of the South". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  2. ^ "Alabama Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Alabama.
  3. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1989". RPM. December 23, 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Best of 1989: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"What I'd Say"
by Earl Thomas Conley
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

February 11, 1989
Succeeded by
"Big Wheels in the Moonlight"
by Dan Seals